NSC holds authority accountable for worsening situation in southern governorates [Archives:2008/1157/Local News]

May 22 2008

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, May 20 ) The National Solidarity Council held a news conference Tuesday at which participants stated their views on the reasons for the continuing protests in Yemen's southern and eastern provinces. They also suggested possible solutions to pressing issues in these areas.

The NSC strongly criticized the authority, saying that it has left consequences and issues from the 1994 Civil War unsolved, which, as a result, has negatively impacted citizens' lives.

Conference attendees claimed that the authority has privatized many government institutions that were part of South Yemen's government prior to reunification and this negatively affected those working for such institutions. As a result of the government's poor policies, thousands of military and security servants were dismissed from their jobs, according to the conference.

Participants confirmed that mismanagement and the authority's noncommittance to respecting the Yemeni Constitution and the law has increased the problems and sufferings of citizens in the nation's southern and eastern provinces.

They added that oppressed citizens in these areas are enraged by the behavior of influential officials who plunder their lands and homes and deprive them of their basic rights, pointing out that these oppressed citizens also vent their anger at the appropriate authorities for not responding to their needs and complaints. The NSC attributed the turmoil in the southern governorates and lack of real democratic practices to the fact that the current government doesn't care about enhancing the principle of real partnership with southern Yemeni citizens to share power and resources.

The council suggested several solutions to resolve the crisis in these southern and eastern governorates, one of which is that the government should release all political detainees and those imprisoned for their opinions and refer those who have committed crimes during protests to the appropriate judicial authorities, in addition to ceasing to hunt protest activists.

The second solution suggested was for the government to withdraw troops deployed in the southern governorates so as not to engage in clashes with citizens, while a third solution was for the government to reinstate all military and security employees dismissed from their jobs following the 1994 Civil War.

A fourth solution was for the government to return those plots of land and homes for which contracts and documents were annulled following the 1994 war to their owners in order to ensure ownership rights.

Regarding political issues, the NSC holds the view that such issues can be resolved via many solutions. For one, the government must create political partnerships within civil institutions and secondly, in light of the nation's geographical areas and population, there should be representation in the various executive agencies, particularly within Parliament.

Another solution is for the government to provide jobs at military and security institutions for idle youths, as well as facilitate their admission to military colleges and police academies in a way that contributes to establishing a national balance within the various government institutions.

Additionally, the NSC called for establishing local governance with complete powers, promoting citizen participation on elected councils as voters and candidates and reforming the current election system to ensure free and fair electoral processes.

The council further declared that a particular portion of natural resource revenues must be allocated for development in productive governorates. According to the NSC, no real reforms can be carried out without a strong political will to build political institutions and correct their present situations.

It stressed the necessity of establishing an independent judiciary, Parliament and Shoura Council, provided that no particular group controls such bodies, adding that citizens must be able to exercise their voting rights without intimidation from influential individuals, while elections must be transparent and free.

The council urged security authorities to stop intimidating voters casting their ballots in the general elections, pointing out that such authorities must act neutrally, according to the Yemeni Constitution.

Established on July 29, 2007, the NSC is comprised of tribal leaders, academics, politicians, social dignitaries and members of Parliament. It is chaired by Sheikh Hussein Bin Abdullah Al-Ahmar, who declared that the council will work to strengthen the spirit of cooperation and solidarity among Yemenis, maintain national principles, protect Yemeni law and the Constitution and fight all forms of corruption.